Today I am grateful that my current commute is across the hall in my slippers. Well, not slippers, exactly, but these fabulous fleece socks that have become my “writing socks.” (Some writers have sweaters; I have crazy socks.)
For eight years, I drove 45 km each way to work. The commute took about 45 minutes, morning and night, if the weather and traffic were both good. On days like today, it took longer. Today’s heavy snowfall has made me think about that drive. How grateful I am not to be doing it.
Except, most of the time, I actually enjoyed it. It was, in large part, a highway commute, and I enjoyed watching the fields change with the seasons as I drove north on Highway 21 into Fort Saskatchewan each day.
The drive gave me much needed quiet time. Time to pause, to think, to reflect. I did some of my best problem solving during that drive, while my conscious mind focused on the road before me and my unconscious mind turned things over in the background. I was reminded of this phenomena last week while driving out to the farm, when several pieces of my current project fell – rather unexpectedly – into place. I spent the first 30 minutes when I got there madly scribbling notes so I wouldn’t forget anything.
I also used to listen to audio books while I drove. I laughed my way through John Green’s Paper Towns. Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall kept me going for weeks, and Thomas Cromwell’s problems made my own seem much more manageable. (After all, no matter what happened, at least I didn’t need to worry about losing my head.) I was furious at Barbara Kingsolver when she bragged about growing her own watermelons in Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: A Year of Food Life while I drove through the dark mornings and afternoons of an Alberta February. But I forgave her when I listened to The Lacuna, which I loved.
In fact, audio books helped me keep up with reading – my first love in life, and the one that led me to both writing and librarianship – during some of the busiest times of my career.
Even so, I am glad not to be on the roads today, and I am incredibly thankful for this sabbatical – it has proven to be an amazing experience (and it’s not over yet).
Drive safe everyone. I’m thinking of you.